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Kristen Fischer : Trusting the (Creative) Process

Trusting the (Creative) Process

By Kristen Fischer

When I began my career as a copywriter, I never thought I would go through so many ups and downs. Each time I experienced a down — a client didn't pay up on my deadline, my work was rejected, or projects didn't come in — I thought that I must not be cut out to be living my dream.

Now I know that nothing could be further from the truth.

As time wore on and I overcame down cycles, I learned from experience that there are built in ups and downs that come with the creative life. Survive a few and you'll see that it's known as the creative process. It's OK to experience doubt and frustration, especially as a right-brainer in the sometimes left-brained world of business.

I became fascinated with life as a creatively self-employed person, and chose to interview more than 65 others like me to explore the trials and triumphs of this career lifestyle. While compiling my book Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs, I confirmed that the back and forth of creative self-employment is normal. Everyone was experiencing it. By finding support and knowing that there were going to be hard times, other creatives like me excelled.

Experiencing Down Cycles

M.J. Ryan, an author and consultant based in California, says many creative people do not understand that there are ebbs and flows to the creative course. When artists and writers go through a down cycle, they feel empty and can think that is the end. Or that they're not good enough. Or that it's time to run back to corporate safety.

But that's not true, says Ryan. She doesn't offer a step-by-step plan for gaining self-trust, but does say the best way to build it up is to play on past successes. If you're starting out as a graphic artist and have not a client in sight, for example, think about the art show you successfully exhibited at during college. Any success, even if not related to your field, can be used to motivate. Once you're motivated, you can put yourself out there a little. Will rejection come? Sure. But as Ryan emphasizes, it's part of the process.

Confidence and trust in oneself will naturally build as success is tasted, offers Ryan.

Creating Your Support System

An easy way to support yourself is to reach out for a connection. You can do that my meeting others who understand, or are in a similar field to you, or reach out silently. (I love the library for books on business and the psychology of success.)

For Andrea Scher, a jewelry-maker and life coach from California, building a support system helped her battle loneliness.

"I think it's important to build a community of support, whether that's colleagues, advisors or coaches and consultants, or friends," she says. Her blog, www.superherojournal.com, lets her reach a large audience that is continually inspired by her risk-taking. In turn, she receives comments of support from people of all walks.

Indeed, creating your own support system is vital, a perfect counteraction to battling a down time.

"Finding good mentors and coaches is important for any entrepreneur, and it's always good to get the outside perspective of someone who can look at your challenges and opportunities more objectively than you can look at them yourself," says Ben Dattner, an organizational consultant based in New York.

"Framing things positively, as opportunities rather than as crises, is likely to help you become more resilient in the face of inevitable setbacks and disappointments." •

© 2006 Kristen Fischer. All rights reserved.

Kristen FischerKristen Fischer is a writer living at the Jersey Shore. She creates brochures, website content and more for clients across the globe. More »

9/30/06